With the latest oil spill receiving more air time than the global War on Terror and China’s coastline now suffering like the Gulf of Mexico it begs the question: is there a safer way to manage the oil industry in order to avoid similar catastrophes from happening again in the future?
Why are we putting our ecosystems in such dire danger and is there an alternative way to more oil around the world without putting our oceans at risk? Many environmental groups claim that there are other ways, but the non-greenists among us counter argue that the alternatives are simply not viable, which begs another question that needs to be addressed: why is that we think it is ok to put our environment at risk for the sake of saving money?
Facts and Figures
Currently, oil is transported by barge, ship, rail, road and pipelines and these all work on global scales with pipelines that cross into different continents and super tankers that carry around 84 million gallons of the black stuff. As oil is often found in particular areas in the world; it is likely that different transportation options will be used to get oil from point A to point B which also boosts up the odds of a major incident occurring as oil is moved from container to container.
FACT: As ships can contain so much oil they simply have to be counted as a danger to the environment.
FICTION: All oil spills come from large ships.
Figures actually show that facilities and non-vessels as well as pipelines and unexplained spills are to blame for many spills yet the tankers and ships seem to get the most coverage — so why are they becoming the fall guys for oil transport? Simple, because usually they cause the most devastation due to their sheer size.
Alternative Oil Transport?
With most forms of oil transportation there will be an element of risk and it is hard to ascertain a safe way to transport it. Pipelines are proving to be a far safer alternative to the tankers and ships that often leave such devastation and they are proving extremely popular in Alaska.
So, are pipeline the safest alternative? At the moment they are the only alternative that allows us to move large quantities around the world, safely and economically viably and while the world needs to fuel its oil cravings; we need to ensure that the transport of the black stuff is both cost-efficient and environmentally friendly.
Viability vs. sustainability
Companies claim that the cheapest way to transport oil over long distances is via the seas while environmental agencies claim that the risks should outweigh the cost-affiance to a certain extent.
It’s not just the seas that are put at risk but rivers as well as barges are often used to move oil around but the threat to a river ecosystem is far less severe than the threat to the ocean as we depend on the oceans running efficiently.
It is simply not a viable option to stop transporting oil around the world but it is viable to ask oil companies to look into safer ways to manage their drilling and transport options. The latest BP spill in the US has simply highlighted this need and unless we all crave the idea of eating fish pre-marinated in fresh black oil — we need to be finding ways to help the industry to find alternatives rather than simply denying them the right of passage through out waterways.
The Future for Oil
With the US oil spill gaining a lot of attention many have not realized that China is currently suffering from its largest oil spill – EVER. According to the Huffington Post article the slick has doubled in size in just a few days and it was caused not by a common-foe ship but from a pipeline that exploded in a busy port — so are pipelines really the way forward?
The future for oil looks somewhat bleak as we go around in circles attempting to figure out the best way to move it around the world but there is one thing for certain: we need to find the least dangerous way to transport it and take into account the impact it has on the environment rather than how much money can be drained from the multi-billion dollar industry.